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Dear Joe V: Thank you, thank you, thank you! Charlie has passed, but what an experience!!! We did work together at the Colonial Theatre in Akron! We may be related! His granddaugher lives in Spokane, WA where my wife was born and raised! Charlie and I had a common friend (now deceased) Kenny Nichols of the Akron Beacon Journal newspaper. I have been totally overwhelmed! I’ve Emailed Mrs Nelson with the information and await an answer. You have been a godsend! You may Email me at
The West Theatre opened in August, 1947. The manager was Vincent H. Lauter and the owner was the American Slovene Corporation, a group of residents of the city. The building has a 105 foot frontage on Wooster Road, West and 135 foot deep along 21st Street. The parking lot at the rear of the building holds 70 to 80 cars. The building had a basement that included an arcade of 11 shops/stores, accessable from the front or rear of the building. The theatre was fully airconditioned. This writer worked at the theatre and recalls showing the movie “The Thing” with special green lettering on the marquee. Exact number of seats unknown, but probably around 400. The theatre was in full operation during my last visit (2005)to the city.
Yes, there were two Rialto Theatres, one in East Akron, the other in Kenmore (then considered separate from Akron). I remember appearing in a Minstrel show at the Goodyear Theatre and seeing the Rialto nearby as you remember. The Kenmore Rialto was quite small and competed with the Boulevard Theatre up the street. Does anyone know if Charles Hermann is still living and how to reach him? He was a friend of Akron Beacon Journal reporter Kenny Nichols. Nichols did a thesis on the theatres of Akron that is now in the main library collection in Akron.
The organist for many years was “Wild Oscar” at the Mighty Wurlitzer organ (which is still playing!) I recall seeing Patti Page, the singing rage (Tennessee Waltz, etc) on stage and “Oscar” performing prior to the movie starting. Loved seeing all of the MGM musicals on the “Huge” screen, too. The Civic (Akron Loews) is a tremendous asset to the City of Akron and a tribute to those responsible for preserving an old “Movie Palace” — MarqueeMan
I was an assistant manager at the Colonial in the mid-50’s! It was operated at the time by the Shea Corporation and the manager was “Dusty Rhodes”. The theatre premiered “The Robe”, 20th Century Fox’s first CinemaScope film. In the 1940’s I attended a performance of “The Student Prince” on stage, perhaps one of the last stage performances prior to installation of the huge C-Scope screen that blocked the entire stage area. Part of the building housed “The Backstage Bar” owned by piano-playing Ted Boyer. The theatre was known for it’s “Peanut Gallery”, a 3rd floor balcony with extremely steep tiers of seats. Originally, I believe the building was an opera house? It, with the B.F. Keith PALACE, Akron LOEWS, and the Strand (Warner’s) comprised the downtown’s main theatres. It was a glorious time of my life! The building’s location is now a concrete parking structure. Only the Loew’s Theatre survived, renamed the Civic. It still has it’s original Wurlitzer Theatre Organ and a serves as a grand peforming arts center. (TheMarqueeMan)
Someone asked about the theatre organ in another post. I believe it was a Wurlitzer (shown in the photos) and is now stored at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Let’s hope the Pasadena mayor and council steps in to protect this fabulous jewell of the past!